New mums to suffer if birth centre closes

Jenny and Sam Harby EMN-161123-122108001
Jenny and Sam Harby EMN-161123-122108001

New mums will lose a vital support service if the planned closure of Melton’s birth centre goes ahead.

That was the message from parents who have experienced the care of midwives at the St Mary’s clinic in Thorpe Road.

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust plan to close it because there are not enough births there to make it sustainable.

But parents have highlighted its other important services, such as providing beds for new mothers after they have given birth and midwifery advice on baby care and issues such as breast-feeding.

Jenny Harby, who spent three nights at the Melton centre after giving birth to her son earlier this year at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, said: “Going to St Mary’s for three nights, which I opted to do, was an amazing experience.

“I was surrounded by a team of professionals who supported me through those first sleepless nights, when my body was at its weakest and my knowledge of childcare minimal.

“I have serious doubts over whether I would have been able to breastfeed my son had I not gone there.”

The Scalford mum added: “At a time when resources such as health visitors are being cut, axing St Mary’s and leaving parents to fend for themselves, with nothing but the internet to offer advice on those crucial early months, seems a very heartless and short-term stance.”

Bernie Mullins said: “I had two of our children in Melton and they knew how to look after a new mum.”

Hellen Jackson said: “Both of my boys were born here. I had a water birth for both of them and had two midwives entirely dedicated to my care.

“I couldn’t have asked for better - it is an amazing place.”

The health trust said support services for new Melton mums would be available at a new Combined Care Unit, staffed by midwives and doctors, at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI), if the proposals are approved.

There would be in-patient beds and a neonatal intensive care unit in case of emergencies.

The LRI will also house a midwife-only birth centre while home births will continue to be supported by midwives.”